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Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, Inc.
A Voice for Private Physicians Since 1943
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Supreme Court Rules Against AAPS in Copyright Case Related to CPT Codes, Drug Patents

Washington -- On Wed, Jan 15, 2003, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 to uphold the extension of current copyright law - a decision that has far-ranging implications on the AMA monopoly on the CPT copyright as well as drug patents. For those reasons, the Association of American Physicians & Surgeons had filed a brief in favor of the public and against the special interests benefiting from the latest copyright extension. The suit sought to overturn the copyright extension, which was heard before the Supreme Court on October 6, 2002.

At that time, AAPS General Counsel, Andrew Schlafly released the following statement:

"The High Court will render its most important ruling on intellectual property in a decade. The Court will assess the constitutionality of the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, which was railroaded through Congress in a single day in 1998. The Act extended by twenty years the ownership of works created as long ago as 1923.

"AAPS is concerned that any affirmance of the Act will encourage Congress to extend patent protections for much-needed prescription drugs. Already patients are deprived by patents of access to affordable drugs.

"AAPS also objects to the infringement by the Act on free speech. Misuse of copyright interferes with essential debate about legal standards and codes that are imposed by law. The American Medical Association (AMA) attempts to prevent anyone from posting and debating on the internet the Current Procedural Terminology (CPT), the codes used to bill for Medicare.

"Enough is enough. We too love Donald and Mickey and Goofy and Pluto, but Disney cannot own them forever. Drug companies should not own essential drugs forever, either. Congressional power is limited, and it should not be allowed to prolong copyrights and patents for existing material. It is unconstitutional for Congress to repeatedly extend the ownership of old works, and AAPS urges the Court to limit congressional power to grant these entitlements to special interests."

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